So, here are the books attendees donated to the La Muse library last night for the May Retreat:
Joanne Elliott, an American writer, was first. Joanne lives on the island of Inis Boffin in Northern Ireland so she brought along Territories of the Voice a diverse selection of short stories by Irish women writers such as Julia O'Faolain, Mary Lavin, Edna O'Brien and Elizabeth Bowen, as well as newer writers, including Anne Devlin, Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, Ann McKay, Fiona Barr, and Evelyn Conlon (Evelyn was here last year).
Joanne also graciously donated New Selected Poems by Richard Murphy a copy she was given by the poet.
Anne Mini, another writer from the states, who has a great blog for writers that you should check out, gave the library F. Scott Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise.
Anne also donated a special book by Philip K.Dick, Valis.
The reason it's special: that's Anne on the cover as a little girl representing the new Messiah of the novel. (Sorry the image is so small!) Philip K. Dick was Anne's step-father.
The American artist Nora Lee McGillivray donated a great book of photographs of the boundary waters of the Minnesota area where she comes from, Looking for the Summer by Jim Brandenburg.
Everyone loved the book Nora created herself, below, "The Artist's Own Celestial Charts to Guide the Reader in Search of the Elusive & Changing CENTER." It's hard to see from the photo just how beautiful and intricate the work she does is, but it at least gives you an idea of the amount of time and energy that went into creating such a beautiful book.
Nora also gave us two amazing kids books, one from the twenties Millions of Cats by Wanda Gray and Betsy Bowen's Antler, Bear, Canoe. We've been reading them to our boys nearly every night for the last couple of weeks.
Julie Baugnet, an artist friend of Nora's, was here again to paint like last year. Julie reintroduced a great book she brought last year called Drawing from Life : The Journal of Art edited by Jennifer New. Some examples of Julie's journals are in the book and you can check out her recent work on her blog.
Journal of a Prarie Year by Paul Gruchow is another book about Minnesota, where Julie also lives. The publisher says this about the book: "Originially published twenty-three years ago, Journal of a Prairie Year remains one of the finest depictions of the prairie ever written, an essential reintroduction to a threatened world."
Julie also donated The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing by James Elkins, an art historian with Chicago's School of the Art Institute.
The Chicago writer Rebecca Pohancenik (she curates a cool site called text/gallery) was next with her choices. Rebecca lives in London where she's doing her doctorate.
Rebecca donated Bill Bryson's memoir The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America becasue of where she's from, as well as Angels & Instincts by A.S. Byatt. Like Byatt's novel Rebecca is writing an historical novel at La Muse alongside work on her thesis.
Last but not least came Liza Filby, a writer and historian from London. She is currently finishing her doctorate thesis on Margaret Thatcher, presently entitled "God and Thatcher: Religion and Politics in 1980s Britain."
Liza donated Kingsley Amis' Lucky Jim which she called a classic description of academic life, in that, not much has changed since the novel was published.
Because his music inspires her, Liza also donated Jazz in the bittersweet blues of life by Wynton Marsalis, a memoir of the musician on a roadtrip.
We also suggested two or three books for each artist and writer to help them with their projects, but also to introduce them to the work of previous attendees as well as books we love.